aequorea Rendering: Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Images of marine life entangled in plastic junk are no doubt a troubling reminder of the state of our oceans and the work that needs to be done to conserve them and the life within.

But Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut is not only proposing a large-scale cleanup: he sees environmentally harmful flotsam as the building block for an architectural revolution, a new kind of structure. It’s something he calls an “oceanscraper.”

These submerged 250-floor structures would stretch about 3,000 feet beneath sea level, house 20,000 residents — or aquanauts, as Callebaut calls them — and best of all, at least from a green perspective, they would be 3D-printed using algae and the discarded plastic that’s currently stewing in the Earth’s oceans.

The mixed-use aquatic developments would also contain offices, food gardens, and laboratories, to name a few of the non-residential elements, so residents wouldn’t need to set foot on dry land for anything.

All of this would be contained in a winding structure with a modest diameter of 1,640 feet and that features walls made out of aragonite, a crystallized calcium carbonate, and that increase in thickness to withstand heightened pressure at the deepest points.

Via a fictionalized manifesto written from the viewpoint of an aquanaut from the year 2065, Callebaut even goes into detail about some of the units’ finishes. “The apartments’ partitions are made of chitin that is also synthesized,” he writes, explaining the material is a “molecule making up the shell of crustaceans such as lobsters.”

And for the flooring? “We took inspiration from the antibacterial denticles of the Galapagos shark’s skin, thus eliminating the need for toxic detergents.”

It’s probably safe to assume the units don’t feature granite countertops — a small price to pay for saving the planet.

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